Following a “one-sided” Instagram post about Israel by University College London (UCL)’s Students’ Union, Jewish students at UCL have been told on social media that “Hitler was right” and that when they come back to campus there will be people “waiting for you”.
There have been multiple death threats, with one Jewish student sent an image of her faced superimposed on a person being executed by a guillotine, whilst another was told: “I wish death upon you and curses for life and inshallah to your unborns. Your mother, your father and you will burn in this life and the life after.”
On Friday night, shortly before the Jewish sabbath began, UCL Students’ Union posted a message on Instagram that Jewish students considered to be inflammatory. UCL’s Jewish Society and Friends of Israel Society issued a joint statement, noting that antisemitism was surging and appealing for understanding, however, when they turned their smartphones back on after the sabbath ended on Saturday night, they discovered a slew of aggressive comments, some of which may constitute criminal offences.
The matter is being reported to UCL and the police, with assistance from Campaign Against Antisemitism.
A spokesperson for UCL’s Jewish Society and Friends of Israel Society said: “Jewish students across the country are under attack on social media. Our universities and students’ unions are not standing up for us. In response to UCL Students’ Union’s one-sided statement, we issued a call for understanding and tolerance on Friday night, but by Saturday night we were answered with praise for Hitler and threats to our physical security. The perpetrators must be swiftly identified and held to account. If they are students, they should be expelled.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Social media has become rife with antisemitic abuse, and Jewish students are being abandoned to face it alone. All of the recent talk of solidarity against racism is just talk if it does not extend to Jews too. We are appalled by the comments sent to Jewish students at UCL and will provide all necessary support, including legal assistance if necessary.”
Dr Michael Spence, President and Provost of UCL, said he was “particularly distressed that there have been a number of disturbing reports of antisemitic incidents and threats – online and in person – within the UCL community over the weekend. We unreservedly condemn abuse, harassment or bullying directed at Jewish and Israeli students. There can never be a justification for this behaviour, but most especially at a university such as UCL. Abuse, racism and hate speech have no place here. We will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against anyone who is found to have engaged in antisemitism, either by word or deed.”
There have been a number of antisemitic incidents at UCL, including violence. Whilst the University has adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism, the Students’ Union has failed to confirm its stance and there has been a concerted effort by UCL’s chapter of the University and College Union to overturn adoption of the definition.
If you have experienced antisemitism at university, please contact [email protected].